The analysis, carried out by the non-profit organization Transport 

“It’s particularly shocking, because we know that the rail transportation system is more advanced than ours,” recalls Andréanne Brazeau, senior policy analyst at the David Suzuki Foundation. According to the study, in fact, the gain would be particularly interesting for the countries bordering Germany, where the tournament will take place. Thanks to the numerous road and rail connections, teams from France, Austria, Belgium and Switzerland could consider traveling to Germany by train or bus. They could thus reduce their emissions by 94 to 98%, for a journey that would last between 3:40 and 8:30 hours.

The analysis mentions that of the 13 teams contacted, only three expressed their intention to avoid flying: Germany, Switzerland and Portugal. For others, it is likely that they will favor flights. For Andréanne Brazeau, this is a missed opportunity. “Soccer teams have a responsibility. They must show that they take the fight against climate change seriously,” she says. An opinion shared by Aaron Ettinger, professor of political science at Carleton University. For him, even if some teams say they are considering the train option, he remains doubtful. “Sports teams are good at making symbolic gestures, but not really at taking more concrete actions,” he says.

“Here, we have a reality that is a little different,” underlines Andréanne Brazeau. A larger territory, less frequent trains, a less developed rail network: logistics would be difficult for North American teams who want to get to their matches without flying. “But it’s still the kind of thinking we need to have collectively,” she adds. A 2021 study showed, for example, that the travel of teams from the four biggest leagues in North America generated 122,000 tonnes of CO2 equivalent in one year. By organizing their calendars differently, it would be possible for them to reduce this number. For example, during the pandemic, the National Hockey League (NHL) moved its games closer together geographically and temporally, which had the effect of halving its broadcasts.

Generally speaking, “these major sporting events are disasters from an environmental point of view, because people are flying from all over the world to get there,” says Aaron Ettinger. Andréanne Brazeau points out that teams would have other ways to show their commitment to the environment: education campaigns, or even a link to various sustainable mobility options to travel to a match from different countries during the purchasing tickets. “We have to show that it’s a priority, encourage people to do the right thing,” she maintains. “Maybe the emissions from fan travel are higher, in absolute terms, but the players should be exemplary in this regard. »